Zhangye Giant Buddha Temple was built in 1098 during the Western Xia Regime with a history of over 900 years. Its name has changed several times. It was named "Kasyapa Buddha Temple", "Bojue Temple", "Hongren Temple", etc.. As there is a large reclining Buddha, so people call it "Reclining Buddha Temple" or " Big Buddha Temple." In 1996, it was listed in the fourth batch of national key cultural relics protection units.
Zhangye Big Buddha Temple scenic spot is an important place of interest on the Silk Road, and also a landmark building of Golden Zhangye, a famous historical and cultural city. Here are the largest Xixia Buddhist hall —— Buddha temple, the largest indoor wooden clay sculpture lying Buddha and the most complete first edition of the "Yongle North Tibet". Zhangye Great Buddha Temple is a Buddhist art museum that integrates architecture, sculpture, murals, carving, classics and cultural relics.
History of Zhangye Big Buddha Temple
Zhangye was called as "Ganzhou” in ancient times. It had been the capital of Hugu Regime since rebellion in the Tang Dynasty, knowing as Ganzhou. In1028, Dangxiang people who built Western Xia Regime around Yinchuan conquered Gangzhou. Eight years later, Western Xia occupied the whole Hexi Corridor. In order to strengthen the operation and management of Hexi corridor, the Western Xia Regime take active measures to promote series of localization policies, including the construction of temples and translation of buddhist scriptures. During the reign of Li Qiangshun, Western Xia was very prosperous, and the Dafo Temple during this period.
As a royal temple of the past dynasties, Zhangye Big Buddha Temple is closely related to the royal families of the Xixia, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, and has a typical palace architectural style. The temple buildings run through the central axis of the east and west direction, and the left and right side halls are arranged symmetrically. The whole group of buildings is unique in shape, rigorous in layout, prominent in theme and distinct in tone. The main building of the Great Buddha Hall is an outstanding representative of the Western Xia architectural art. The hall is composed of two-story pavilions, the plane frame is neat and standardized, the space combination is versatile, giving people both natural and solemn and profound, both bright and real and hazy ethereal sense, reflecting the royal "nine five supreme" spirit.
Legend Anecdotes of Zhangye Big Buddha Temple
In history, the Empress Dowager of the Xixia Dynastery often came to the temple to worship and live. Zhangye Big Buddha Temple is also said to be the birthplace of Kublai Khan. The mother of Kublai Khan, Yuan mother, also lived here for a long time, and her coffin was placed in the temple. At the end of the Southern Song Dynasty, Zhao Xian, Emperor of the Song Dynasty, became a monk here to avoid disaster. The Italian traveler Marco Polo was attracted by the magnificent buildings of the Great Buddha Temple and the prosperity of Zhangye, and once stayed here for a year. The temple is huge, in the 16th century, the temple could accommodate four to five thousand people to worship at the same time.
What to See in Giant Buddha Temple
Giant Buddha Temple covers an area of about 23000 square meters, facing west. The existing architectures in the Giant Buddha Temple are the Giant Buddha Hall, the Buddhist Classics Hall and the Clay Pagoda.
The Sleeping Buddha
The statue of Sakyamuni Buddha is the largest indoor clay lying Buddha in China, with a length of 34.5 meters and a shoulder width of 7.5 meters. Wooden clay sculpture, gold painting, face painted with gold, head pillow lotus platform, side and lying, two eyes half closed, lips slightly open. The right palm is under the face, the left hand is on the side of the thigh, and the symbol has a swastika on his chest. Sanskrit, meaning "auspicious sea cloud phase". The statue is exquisite, the proportion is coordinated, smooth lines, natural expression, peaceful appearance, lifelike.
Giant Buddha Hall
The Giant Buddha Hall is 48.5 m wide, 24.5 m long and 33 m high, with 2 stories. At the two sides of the gate of the hall, there are two 6 square meters’ brick carvings. There are 31 painted clays which are relics of Western Xia Regime. Among them, the reclining Buddha is the largest existing indoor reclining buddha in China. It sleeps on the butsudan in middle of the hall. The Buddha is 34.5 m long. The width between its two shoulder is 7.5 m. The ear of it is about 4 m long and the feet are 5.2 m long. One can lie on its middle finger, and its ear could hold 8 people siting side by side. There are 10 disciples behind the giant buddha. 18 arhats stands on bungalows at both sides of the gate. In the hall, there are the murals of Journey to the West and Mountain and Sea Classics.
In 1966, stone tablets, copper Buddha, bronze mirror, copper pot, Buddhist sutras were found in the belly of the reclining Buddha, as well as a lead band, which recorded an earthquake happened in Chenghua Period during Ming Dynasty.
Buddhist Classics Hall
The Buddhist Classics Hall is 21.3 m wide and 10.5 m long. There are more than six thousand volumes of Buddhist sutras given by Emperor Ying Zhong during Ming Dynasty. These Buddhist sutras are preserved well, especially those wrote by gold and silver powder.
Clay Pagoda was named Amitabha Thousand Buddhas Pagoda, with the height of 33.37m. It is one of the Five Element Pagodas in Zhangye. There is a small pagoda at each conner of the first and second stories. The architecture style is very unique in China.
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